York Conservative Councillors Present Budget Amendments

At Thursday’s Budget Council City of York’s Conservative Group will deliver the attached amendment which will see a focus on frontline services rather than spin and waste and will limit the rise in council tax by 0.5%, whilst also adding more money to reserves, reversing the hikes to parking charges and adding some crucial new schemes to priority areas. 

At the heart of the amendment is reversing the Lib Dem and Green proposals to hike parking charges which Conservative Group Leader Paul Doughty described as ‘the wrong increase at the wrong time’. He went on ‘with city centre businesses suffering from national high street issues and the recent problems of the floods we should be helping them and not penalising residents and visitors. It seems the coalition’s war on the car user is relentless, whatever harm it may do to the York economy’. 

The amendment will see the following new schemes:

• £40,000 for an additional collection of Christmas trees to help residents and ensure better disposal. 

• £75,000 fund introduced for specific solutions to areas lacking adequate public transport. This is likely to be particularly useful for rural areas and for older residents and we would expect to work with the likes of the York Bus Forum. 

• £50,000 fund where CYC and partners will subsidise a trial of electric white vans for local small business. This will hopefully make businesses doing small  journeys realise the potential for electrical vehicles to be used instead.

• £45,000 for a new HENRY (Health, Exercise and Nutrition for the Really Young) scheme which will be crucial in giving people the best start in life.

Cllr Paul Doughty said ‘Our amendment shows how we would do more for less. We are doing this by making more efficient use of West Office, cutting overtime spending, print spending, making changes to the Communications and Policy staff and cutting the controversial new Lib Dem Committee chair, their additional Executive Member and reducing the work. After the unseemly last year of the Chief Executive being paid to do nothing, we believe we should look to continue this saving to find a structure without the Chief Executive and make permanent savings’. Cllr Doughty continued ‘With just a few weeks to look at the budget as opposed to the coalition working on it with all officers for months we cannot unfortunately get it looking like we wish but our amendment improves the budget, with more of a focus on frontline services and a lower increase in council tax’. 

Group Deputy Leader Cllr Martin Rowley said ‘The capital budget is the most ludicrous I have ever seen with huge numbers as the Lib Dems and Greens seem to leave York paying for their spending decisions for many years to come. It is not just paying for questionable schemes that concerns us it is the way such large amounts look set to be approved on just a few lines of text and how expensive some potentially otherwise sensible spends look – for example the rush to spend £6.6 million on new bin vehicles when even the report says it doesn’t think the technology is there yet and whilst we welcome the planting of trees based on the figures quoted to do it I can only assume they will all be gold plated. Items in the capital budget can often be enjoyed today but are then paid off over more than a decade and the money tree coalition seems to be abusing this’.

Concluding Cllr Rowley said ‘The budget amendment has been fully approved by council officers as deliverable. The question now is will the coalition support back office bureaucracy and borrowing over limiting the rise to council tax, mental health, rural buses and other vital areas.’